Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

March 19, 2010


Contacts: Paul Marinari: 970.8972730 ext.223;

                Leith Edgar: 303.236.4588;


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Endangered Species Recovery Champion Award for Black-footed Ferret Recovery



U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director Rowan Gould today announced the 18 recipients of the Service’s 2009 Recovery Champion award. Dr. JoGayle Howard received one of the conservation honors for her significant contribution to the recovery of the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes), one of North America’s most endangered mammals.


“The Recovery Champion award both recognizes the exceptional conservation accomplishments of its honorees and highlights the importance of strong and diverse partnerships in species conservation,” said Gould.  “Recovery Champions are helping imperiled species regain their place in the natural resources fabric of our country while focusing attention on the importance of conserving our nation’s biological heritage for future generations.”


The Recovery Champion award recognizes U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees and their partners for contributions to the recovery of threatened and endangered species in the United States. The 2009 Recovery Champion honorees are working to benefit a range of endangered and threatened plants and animals.  From whooping cranes to mussels, Service employees and partners such as universities, conservation agencies, and private organizations are devoting their resources to a shared mission.  Habitat restoration, public awareness campaigns, and species’ monitoring programs are just a few examples of this year’s Recovery Champion honorees’ efforts.


Howard’s black-footed ferret recovery efforts resulted in the production of 160 kits, which were released into their historic range in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Kansas, New Mexico, and Mexico.


Moreover, Howard led research to develop protocols for breeding rare carnivore species – such as the clouded leopard, cheetah, tiger, leopard cat, puma, and black-footed ferret – at the National Zoo, in Wash., D.C. The research examined how using cryopreservation techniques could lead to the creation of genome research banks for imperiled species. In 2009, the technique produced black-footed ferret young using frozen semen collected in the 1980s, further minimizing the loss of genetic diversity of the captive population.


“The Fish and Wildlife Service is fortunate to have a dedicated conservationist such as Dr. Howard working on black-footed ferret reproduction. Her work has been instrumental in ensuring the species’ genetic diversity and long-term recovery. On behalf of the entire Service, we thank Dr. Howard for her stellar conservation work,” said Steve Guertin, Regional Director of the Mountain-Prairie Region.


Howard also initiated a multi-disciplinary program to conduct a biomedical survey of black- footed ferrets in the wild.  This survey assessed health, disease, reproduction, immunology, and genetics of a reintroduced population in the North American grasslands ecosystem.


In addition, Howard plays important roles in the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s World Conservation Union, Black-footed Ferret Recovery Team and teams developing species survival plans for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.


For additional information, please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Recovery Champion website at:


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit